UNIVERSAL CREDIT SPLIT PAYMENTS GIVEN TO ONLY 20 CLAIMANTS: NONE IN SCOTLAND

For immediate release:

UNIVERSAL CREDIT SPLIT PAYMENTS GIVEN TO ONLY 20 CLAIMANTS: NONE IN SCOTLAND

Rutherglen MSP Clare Haughey has urged the UK government to introduce split household payments of Universal Credit by default.

The Department for Work and Pensions currently pays Universal Credit for couples into a single bank account, and current guidance stipulates that split payments are only available in very exceptional circumstances, despite domestic abuse being a common occurrence.

Figures released by the DWP show the system of split payments on request is severely limited.

Just 20 claimants were in receipt of split payments across the UK – despite almost 1.3 million claimants of Universal Credit, including 120,000 in Scotland – but not one person in Scotland received a split payment of Universal Credit last year.

There are around 11,000 households across South Lanarkshire who are in receipt of Universal Credit.

Rutherglen MSP Clare Haughey, who has been a vocal critic of Universal Credit in the Rutherglen Reformer, said the current system can “make it easier for perpetrators of domestic and financial abuse to exert control over their victims”.

Women’s groups argue that the current system could isolate victims and make it financially difficult to leave abusive relationships, with 85% of domestic abuse survivors agreeing that a request for split payments could trigger more abuse, according to a report from Women’s Aid.

The Scottish Government has committed to introducing split payments but as Universal Credit is entirely reserved, needs the agreement of the DWP.

Commenting, Rutherglen MSP Clare Haughey said:

“Financial abuse affects one in five women and the current system, of paying Universal Credit into one bank account per household, can make it easier for perpetrators of domestic and financial abuse to exert control over their victims and further endanger partners at risk.

“The concerning fact that just 20 claimants had Universal Credit paid into separate bank accounts last year – and shockingly, none in Scotland – simply shows the severe limitations of the system of split payments on request. It is yet another example that Universal Credit is a deeply flawed system.

“With over 3 million people expected to migrate to Universal Credit over the coming years, it is vital that split payments become the default position.

“This will not only prevent abuse of vulnerable claimants, but will ensure that Universal Credit correctly reflects modern working life and gender equality principles.”

ENDS

Notes:

Further information regarding ‘split payments’ can be found on the below link:

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-45029275

Women’s Aid report can be found on the link below (page 6 for the 85% figure cited):

https://1q7dqy2unor827bqjls0c4rn-wpengine.netdna-ssl.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/11/Women_s_Aid_TUC_Financial_Abuse_Report_March_2015.pdf

 

Date published: 21st March 2019

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